Theft on the Mississippi is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.
Style of Play: tabletop escape game
Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper
A mobile device isn’t strictly necessary, but there is an optional companion app.
Recommended Team Size: 1-4
Play Time: about 90 minutes
You are trying to solve a whodunit mystery. You have access to a puzzle book, a game “poster,” several suspect cards, clue cards, and various “strange items.” You study these items to identify puzzles and gather information. When you deduce a solution to a puzzle, you enter a code in a decoder disk, which instructs you to collect additional clue cards that advance the game. Also, the game requires you to destroy various components to solve some of the puzzles.
Sarah Mendez’s Reaction
As soon as I opened the box, I knew I’d love this game: it includes little people and a “gameboard” of sorts! I could tell right away what the story was (a mystery was afoot!), what I’d be doing (collecting clues!), and that the game was going to intentionally support the reasoning process with fun manipulatives. For me, these anchoring mechanisms make this installment stand out among Exit: The Game installments because they persist throughout the game, leading to an impressively cohesive experience that centers the story more than many other Exit: The Game installments. I particularly liked the conceit of talking to passengers on the ship because it moved the story along in an authentic way that the Exit: The Game manuals often fail to do. Additionally, I thought this game included some genuinely clever ways of leveraging the game pieces in various puzzles, which is saying a lot for a series that is constantly reinventing how it squeezes value out of the game components.
New to Exit? Maybe don’t start here, but definitely come back to it! You’ll need to wholeheartedly embrace the idea that nothing is off limits to destroy in these games, which was still hard for me as a seasoned player. However, if you go in with that expectation (and the backup plan of using the hint system), this really is a delightful game.
Fan of Exit? Play this. It expands upon all the best elements of the series and adds concepts that I truly hope persist.
Theft on the Mississippi offered a standard whodunit storyline, polished, well-designed materials, crystal-clear instructions, and an easy setup. Many of the puzzles were tactile in nature, some more fun than others. I liked the use of cards with tiered hints for each puzzle, but I also would have appreciated a more linear walkthrough.
At the worst moments, some of the puzzle setups were misleading and several times I struggled to understand exactly how the game wanted me to interact with the materials. One piece deteriorated after I followed the instructions, making it difficult to find the answer. The game wasn’t really my cup of tea, but if you like boxed games that allow you to mess around with the contents, or are a fan of a mystery story, there might be something here for you.
Cara Mandel’s Reaction
I want to start by prefacing this review by saying that I’ve played a number of Exit: The Game boxes. Typically, I really enjoy these games. I find the puzzles to be clever and at times delightfully surprising. Generally I encounter a few confusing moments where I’ll consult the helpful hints deck they provide, but usually I’m able to navigate through the game fairly intuitively.
Alas, that was not the case with Theft on the Mississippi. I found this game to be strangely unintuitive. I kept finding myself at moments where I just could not figure out what I was meant to do next. I even resorted to installing the help app, which, as it turns out, is only helpful in getting the game set up, but not in providing clues. Ultimately it took a YouTube search of an online play-through to be able to discern what I was missing. My team was so annoyed that we “rage quit” for the evening and decided to revisit it the next day with fresh eyes.
This is not to say the entire game was unenjoyable. There were a few very fun moments sprinkled throughout and a couple charming puzzle mechanics. Unfortunately, I found the overall experience of this game to be more frustrating than fun. In my opinion, there are many more enjoyable installments of Exit: The Game that I’d recommend checking out in place of this one.
David Spira’s Reaction
I’ve not been shy about being a fan of the Exit: The Game series. It has had its ups and downs, but overall, I like the format and style. For me, the games in this series split cleanly into 3 categories:
- Games for beginners to the series
- Games for people who love the series
- Games that fly off the rails
Theft on the Mississippi felt decidedly like a game for lovers of the series.
The puzzles were Exit: The Game ratcheted up a few notches. If you aren’t familiar with the way that the series uses its components or destructibles, you’ll feel stuck fast and often.
There were a few puzzles in Theft on the Mississippi where I wished that there was a bit more clue structure, especially when it came time for extracting a solution, but I genuinely enjoyed the overwhelming majority of this game. When it concluded, I felt energized.
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